Every Inch Leads To A Mile
Back in 1968, together with several other young men, I climbed to the top of Masada, the massive fortification in Israel near the southern end of the Dead Sea. It took us several hours in 100 degree heat to make it to the top. By climbing it ourselves, we better understood why the Roman armies were unable to capture the Jews who occupied the top of this fortification. Whenever the Romans tried to scale the mountain, they were beaten back by the Jews, who would simply let the rocks roll down on them.
Though greatly outnumbered, the Jews lived on top of the mountain for more than 3 years before they killed themselves rather than be taken captive by the Romans. Masada is a stronghold, most likely the fortification referred to as the "strongholds of Engedi" (1 Samuel 23:29). Whoever occupied it had a tremendous advantage over the enemy. All the odds were against the attackers, who found it nigh impossible to scale the mountain with its walls and defenses. The conflict of Masada teaches us that it is much easier to defend territory in our possession than to recapture it after it has gone into the hands of the enemy. The Jews kept the Romans at bay for several years, but once Rome captured the fortress, there was not the slightest chance the Jews could have regained possession of it.
The analogy is clear. It is much easier to defend ourselves from Satan's attacks than it is to take territory back that we have lost to him. To say no to alcohol is easy if you have never tasted it, but it is much more difficult once it has become part of your lifestyle. Those who struggle with overeating know how difficult it is to take off the pounds-how much better never to have to put them on!
This principle is a powerful reminder that the best (and easiest) time to say no to a sinful lifestyle is when it is first presented to us. No matter how fierce the struggle, every loss means the struggle ahead will be even greater. For every inch we give to Satan, he wants a yard. And every inch we wish to recapture involves serious confrontation with the enemy.